The Little Sisters of the Poor are an international congregation of Catholic women religious who serve the elderly poor in over 30 countries around the world. Because they provide health insurance for workers who help them in their cause, the Obama administration is forcing them to help provide their employees with free access to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraceptives. If they refuse, the government is threatening them with multi-million dollar fines. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has filed a lawsuit on their behalf asking that the nuns be given the right to continue with their ministry caring for the elderly poor and providing health benefits to their employees without having to violate their consciences.
Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online recently talked to Sister Constance Veit, L.S.P., communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor, about the lawsuit and religious freedom:
LOPEZ: Does this state of affairs in the U.S. surprise you?
SISTER CONSTANCE: On the one hand, we have seen a gradual secularization of American society and were aware of numerous recent threats to religious liberty (such as the Hosanna-Tabor case) prior to the HHS mandate, so this should not be surprising.
On the other hand, our nation was founded by those who came here seeking religious liberty, and we Little Sisters have pursued our mission in the United States for 145 years without ever facing religious discrimination, so we do find the current situation disconcerting.
When the Little Sisters of the Poor settled in Washington, D.C., in 1871 they received unprecedented attention and support from the federal government. On at least two occasions, Congress passed legislation to provide the Little Sisters with grants to enable them to expand their work on behalf of Washington’s elderly poor, especially recently emancipated slaves. It is sad to think that Washington is now putting up obstacles to our mission and the work of other religious groups on behalf of the poor.